Sunday, December 5, 2010

Looking for Manatee

Today is the start of my night shift life so had the morning and afternoon to myself. I decided to drive the 7 miles to Homosassas Springs and find a manatee. There is a state park at the springs so figured a good place to start. As the weather is getting cold and water temperature is falling the manatees have to find water at least 68 degrees fahrenheit to rest in or they die of exposure. Last year in Florida it was the coldest winter on record and 600 manatees died of the cold. The springs here are 72 degrees so the park opens its gates to the gulf and the manatees congregate around the springs then go back out into the gulf to feed.

Here is a manatee. The West Indian version does not have the split tail like its cousin the Dugong.
After you pay $10 dollars there is a 20 minute boat ride to the sanctuary.

Great Blue Herons were along the shores during the ride.
Bunch of manatees getting warm
Alligators enjoying the sun.
This young male was hit by a car and had wing damage so he walks rather than flies.

The park is dedicated to Florida wildlife and most of the animals and raptors have been involved in vehicle accidents and are rehabilitated here.Originally the park was a wild animal park but when the state took it over 20 years ago they removed the lions and tigers and bears. The only original inhabitant is a hippo named Lou. Plan was to get rid of Lou the the people in the area protested and eventually the governor of Florida declared Lou a Florida native and he was allowed to stay. Lou is 50 years old.

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